Oki Printing Solutions C5500n Review

Fast-paced, high-quality color printing was never this economical. The Oki Printing Solutions C5500n steps up to the plate and hits a home run for the team. Aside from being a networked color printer like any other Oki printer, the C5500n seeks to lead the pack by combining very efficient paper processing, fairly fast printing performance, cost-effectiveness, and high-quality printing.

Reasonably priced at $595 (as of March 7, 2007), the Oki C5500n is not shabby at all with its actual user interface. Having a backlit two-line LCD and ergonomically organized buttons on the control panel makes it all the more user-friendly and easy to operate.

The C5500n is a monster in handling volumes of paper at once. The normal (meaning, if no optional accessories are purchased) paper capacity of the input tray is at 300 sheets.  The manual paper tray folds down from the front and can hold a maximum of 100 sheets, and can also feed up to ten envelopes at a time.

Say goodbye to paper jams caused by paper blocking the output tray; the C5500n boasts that you can collect 250 sheets face down from the output bin. What’s more is that the 100-sheet face-up stacker that folds down from behind the C5500n makes exit and output easier for envelopes and other heavy media.

If you need more efficient paper handling and these features are not enough for you, then you can choose to purchase the optional 530-sheet drawer and the duplexer. The 530-sheet drawer (priced at $184) enables the printer to process a maximum of 930 sheets of paper at a time. The duplexer (priced at $144) offers you the option of double-sided printing, a must for offices involved in small-scale publishing.

This mean printing machine is no slowpoke either. The C5500n can print text-only pages at 23.9 pages per minute, color images on plain paper at 5.0 ppm, and glossy photos at 3.3 ppm. And all this at very economical running costs! The C5500n comes with four toner cartridges, each of which is estimated to print up to 1,500 pages. Although the horizontal paper path makes a long footprint, it helps make cartridge replacement much easier.

Additional cartridges that are estimated to print up to 5,000 pages each can be purchased for $108 (black ones) and $165 (for each of the three colors). The black drum (at $68) and the three color drums ($74 each) need to be replaced after every 20,000 pages printed. Add these all up and the C5500n’s per-page printing cost is estimated to be at just 2.5 cents for black-only printing and 13.5 cents for color, over a period of one year.

Worried that the fuser unit and transfer belt would wear out, even if they’re rated for 60,000 pages? Well, each purchase of the C5500n includes a one-year warranty that covers replacement of these as well.

Don’t expect super high-resolution printing from the C5500n, though. Since it’s technically not a laser printer (the C5500n applies toner to the page using four LED arrays instead of a laser beam), this printer uses your PC’s processor to render its pages from the Windows GDI, just like any other Oki printer.

That being the case, it can be said that the C5500n is at par with any other color printer out there. During our test printing, text-only printing seemed sharp and clearly defined, with a medium weight that left the overall page neither too light nor too dark. Line art looked crisp and precise, apart from some minor horizontal patterns in closely spaced blocks of lines.

As for color printing, color images were too dark to reveal much shadow detail and had inaccurate colors on plain paper. Using glossy paper didn’t help much either; we noted reddish complexions, some unusual red pasteurizations in shadows, and undesirably grainy dithering patterns. Our grayscale sample fared worst: It had a reddish-brown tint and was far too dark.

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